Historian and former Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary archivist Jim Lutzweiler attended the How Should We Then Pastor Conference for pastors held January 25-28 at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL hoping to find out more about Ravi Zacharias. Zacharias received the Lindsay Award, an annual award given by the church. Lutzweiler attended a Q&A session the afternoon before Zacharias was slated to get his award (Jan. 28). Lutzweiler told me he wanted to ask lead pastor Mac Brunson, “In this conference about how to pastor, how did you as a pastor deal with the question of Ravi’s phony credentials, sexting, and suicide email, and still retain him on the program?”
I too would like to know the answer to that question. Zacharias has numerous loose ends remaining but has gone quiet since his ministry issued incomplete statements about credentialing issues several weeks ago.
I Will Call Security
According to Lutzweiler, he attended a Q&A session where he intended to ask lead pastor Mac Brunson his question. However, he said Brunson’s son, Trey, got to him before the microphone did. Lutzweiler quoted Brunson as saying, “No, do not ask the question. If you do, I will call security.” Lutzweiler said he complied with that request.
After the Q&A, Lutzweiler said he went to the auditorium for the meeting during which Ravi Zacharias was to get an award. He told me he looked for a good seat:
I got one four rows back. Suddenly a security guard came to my seat and asked me to follow him. I did. When we got to the foyer, he said, ‘We want to ask you to leave. We understand you want to create a scene.’ I said, ‘What? I am not here to create a scene, I just came to hear Ravi. In fact, I pointedly did NOT create a scene across the street during a Q&A when Trey asked me not to ask a question about Ravi. I politely consented to his request.’ I could quickly tell this made no difference, that they had a mandate to get me out of there without compromise (like sitting in the balcony 200 feet-or-so away from the platform). There were two other pistol-bearing guards right there, ready to haul me away.
I sent emails and a tweet to First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Trey Brunson and asked for their side of this story. I received no response.
Jim Lutzweiler is a Baptist and wanted to raise issues which would no doubt have been inconvenient and uncomfortable but given the information available and recent media coverage were fair to raise. In particular, Lutzweiler wanted to know how Brunson evaluated the evidence which is very compelling. Apparently, if you follow this example, how pastors are supposed to pastor is to ignore such things; and have good security guards packing heat.